The Tavern in Olde Towne East is like the “Blackwater” episode of “Game of Thrones.” The long-awaited, much-anticipated new watering hole next to The Angry Baker has finally opened, and it lives up to the hype. In case you haven’t watched/read any of the “Game of Thrones” series and don’t get the “Blackwater” reference, I’ll put it simply for you: The Tavern is freaking cool!
With dark (almost black) wood decor, wood floors, a stellar beer selection and a menu that presents a number of hard decisions, The Tavern is the finest new hangout to open in our fair city in a while.
Still in its infant stage, The Tavern hasn’t quite found its legs yet — a cocktail menu is still in the works — but when I overhear a neighborhood resident telling the bartender that his groceries are running spare because he’s been eating every meal at a place since it opened, it’s a good sign.
The space reminds me of The Rossi in the Short North. Its open, lofty ceilings are filled with high-tops and booth-padded walls, all of which carry the dark-wood motif. Yet it’s anything but dark inside, thanks to the large front windows. The brick patio out back looks especially inviting.
Settling in with a Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster ($3 during happy hour!) and some pulled-pork sliders ($8), I was very happy to be a part of a very busy evening. I jealously watched others dive into a variety of grilled cheeses — a jalapeno popper version, one with redskin mashers and another containing brie and pears — and I regretted ordering something as simple as sliders … until I took a bite. The pork chunks were tender and juicy, complemented by briny pickle slices, and the sauce was sweet, with just the right amount of tang.
After enjoying my snack, the toughest decision loomed. More than 20 quality drafts were calling my name — Hennepin Ommegang, Left Hand Sawtooth, Buckeye Cleveland Porter and even the finest lowbrow beer ever, Miller High Life. Suck it, PBR drinkers!